Integrative dry needling, also known as trigger point needling, is a treatment now available by select Baptist Health Floyd physical therapists to treat pain resulting from a variety of conditions in patients over the age of 16.
How it Works
The physical therapist creates small lesions by gently inserting fine filaments in the skin. The lesions cause an inflammatory reaction in the soft tissue which increases circulation, and in turn, stimulates the body’s natural healing process. As the body heals, the patient’s pain is reduced. Dry needling is a treatment for musculoskeletal and neuromuscular conditions, including:
- Neck, back and shoulder pain
- Arm pain – tennis elbow, carpal tunnel syndrome, golfer’s elbow
- Migraine and tension headaches
- Buttock and leg pain – sciatica, hamstring strains, calf tightness and spasms
After assessing the patient, the therapist can help decide if dry needling, in conjunction with physical therapy like exercise, electrical stimulation, ultrasound or manual therapy, is warranted to help alleviate pain. Dry needling isn’t a single treatment, but an adjunctive therapy to accompany other forms of physical rehabilitation.
With this therapy, there are three areas in which the physical therapist will focus: trigger points, local areas of pain or the peripheral nerve distribution from which those trigger points arise. The physical therapist can also needle the spine that corresponds to that level of involvement. By performing a palpatory exam, or touching the symptomatic area, the clinician can find the trigger point.
Is it Painful?
Sometimes patients report they don’t really feel the needles penetrate the skin at all. There may be some mild pain and occasionally some bruising at the site. But the monofilaments do not have a cutting edge, so the likelihood of any significant trauma to the tissue is unlikely. If it does hit a nerve, it can cause a twitch reaction which can also stimulate the healing process.
Patients who are allergic to certain types of metals like chromium or nickel should not be treated with this therapy. Tell your physical therapist if you have an implant that may be near or along the neuro pathway.
The effectiveness of the treatment varies from person to person, as does the length of treatment time needed, but is typically very helpful in patients with a localized area of pain.
Most insurance plans cover integrative dry needling if prescribed by a physician as part of rehabilitation.